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Equitable funding for mass transit systems statewide must be included in final state budget; Proposed $5 million increase for non-MTA systems leaves customers behind

The New York Public Transit Association (NYPTA) reaffirmed Friday its position that a $50 million increase in funding for non-MTA transit systems in this year’s state budget is what New York transit riders need to access job opportunities and help grow the state’s economy.

NYPTA is seeking a $30 million increase in aid for downstate non-MTA transit systems and a $20 million increase in funding for upstate transit operators. This represents a 10 percent increase in state aid for non-MTA transit over current levels.

The executive budget includes a 1 percent ($5 million) increase for non-MTA systems. This proposal for non-MTA needs stands in stark contrast to the more than 7 percent increase that the executive budget includes for the MTA.

While NYPTA recognizes that the MTA has pressing needs, so do all other transit systems across this state, including those that work in concert with the MTA to bring thousands of riders to that system on a daily basis.

“Every transit system across this state has needs that simply cannot be ignored because of inadequate state funding,” said Bill Carpenter, NYPTA president and CEO of Regional Transit Service in Rochester. “We recognize the difficult financial situation the state faces. That is why we identified different funding options to meet the needs of the communities we serve and why we will continue working to seek out creative ways to properly fund transit long term. Our riders demand and deserve no less.”

The Assembly and state Senate both proposed larger funding increases than the executive budget. NYPTA applauds them for recognizing the needs of all transit systems statewide, and the association urges them to remain resolute and stand by their proposals during negotiations.

Adequate support of public transit in the state budget would be a clear message that the state supports the thousands of men and women who work for transit systems statewide.

“Public transit is the infrastructure of access and lifeblood of the economy in our state,” said Mark Henry, chair of the Amalgamated Transit Union Legislative Conference Board and president of ATU Local 1056 in Queens. “While our customers benefit from well-funded public transit, so too do the more than 17,000 hard-working ATU members who keep our systems running. These men and women are dedicated public servants who contribute to the strength of our economy every day, and adequate funding for transit this year will show them that state government is on their side.”

Transit operators are seeking a $50 million increase in funding because serving customers is their mission. Anything less than this increase jeopardizes the services that these customers rely on.

"Without transportation, people with disabilities no longer have access to the community,” said Ericka Jones, Systems Advocate for the Center for Disability Rights. “Whether it's going grocery shopping, to doctors appointments, or even going to social events, transportation allows our community to live independent lives."

“As someone who chooses not to own a car, public transit is essential for my professional and personal life," said Lee Dixon, a Capital District Transportation Authority rider from Albany. "Using public transit helps me be environmentally conscious, saves me money on vehicle and parking costs downtown and has been made easy by CDTA's great route network. CDTA, and the systems like it across the state, cannot afford to have state leaders put off properly funding transit yet again, especially as millennials like me increasingly rely on the services our systems provide."